September 21, 2023

Postoperative session: PACU Boarding and Patient Experience—There are No Beds in the House!

Editor's Note

“What happens when two worlds collide?” asked one of the speakers when discussing the combination of the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and the inpatient unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The speakers were Cohen Children's Sharon Goodman, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, CPNP, director, pediatric service line; Kristen Martin, MSN, RN, CPN, CPAN, CAPA, clinical professional development educator; and Jennifer Simonetti, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, CPN, director, magnet program. During this OR Manager Conference session, titled “PACU Boarding and Patient ExperienceThere are No Beds in the House,”  attendees learned how to manage expectations when patients are held for an extended length of stay in the PACU due to the unavailability of inpatient beds. 

The speakers told attendees how certain negative feelings may arise when this happened. “Our challenge was to turn their sadness into joy,” one of the speakers noted. They discussed how they used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to figure out and deliver what patients and their families needed when situations like this would arise:

  • Physiological needs: Bed, Hygiene needs, food
  • Safety needs: Competent Care, safe spaces
  • Belongingness and love needs: Feeling part of child's care team; care for parent
  • Esteem needs: Feeling of the patient/family
  • Self-actualization: Optimum wellness for patient and caregiver.

“We want to make those connections with the patients and their families in meaningful ways,” one of the speakers noted when talking about the mental and psychological well-being of the patients and families. They wanted to do everything they could to address these needs and mimic the inpatient experience.

One way they did this was their implementation of “Commit to Sit.” This program is essentially the root of patient care, which is sitting down with the patient, taking the time to converse with them, and making them feel included. “The time spent is actually perceived to be more than the actual time spent, because it’s those meaningful connections,” noted one of the speakers. Overall, the speakers were proud to tell attendees that survey results showed that patient experience scores had improved with these implementations.



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